Just when you were feeling like you were finally beginning to get caught up on the technological world of today – your smart phone in hand, mp3 player turned on and wireless internet installed – all signs point to the probability of a few new players entering the game. Recent developments having to do with the popularity of the iPhone and other devices of the type have shown that internet carriers are going to have to upgrade their mobile networks if they want to be able to handle the growing amount of data traffic likely to come from consumers using popular social networks and video programs. Many members of the telecommunications technology community are looking to 4G for the future of wireless internet communication.
But what is 4G? The answer to that question can be surprisingly tough to find, especially if you’re not the most technologically-savvy person in the world. 4G is the shortened term for fourth-generation wireless, the state of mobile broadband communication that follows the third generation (3G). Still a little lost? Carriers and standards bodies are, too. Much of exactly what 4G will entail remains to be defined. Experts agree that it will most likely include end-to-end IP and high-quality streaming video, but few details are known. A combination of WiMax and WiFi technology is likely to be used.
Even with this definition, you may find yourself asking what fourth-generation wireless internet means to you. What is all the fuss about? Industry heads predict that users will be able to expect wireless services that support lightning fast data-transmission speeds as high as 100Mbps. Traffic prioritization is also a possibility.
What this means is that live stream video will be available faster and easier than ever. YouTube videos will be downloaded in a flash, and mobile employees will be able to participate in video conference. The quality of these videos will be excellent. Other 4G possibilities include mobile vlogs and new models for collaborative citizen journalism.
Though 4G will be faster, it won’t be cheaper, especially for carriers. The Telecommunications Industry Association estimated spending of more than $4.4 billion on WiMax infrastructure in 2008. WiMax is only one potential 4G standard, so if that big of an investment is being made in one area, imagine what is being spent in other areas and the total as a whole. Wireless internet carriers will have to drop big bucks if they want to move into this next phase of wireless communication. The investment, of course, will most likely be quite worth it.
Don’t get your undies in a bundle yet – 4G technology is still quite a bit of a ways off. Wireless communications providers are just starting to dip their toes into the sea of 4G, WiMax and other such technologies, and no clear answers are available yet. It might be a good idea, however, to start reading up on this fourth generation of wireless communications. You’ll be able to keep up-to-speed on the latest in telecommunications and eventually decide if 4G is an option that is right for you.